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New barrier biopolymer apps debut at AMI/FMI

Boasting a gas-barrier layer that comes from a ‘high amylose plant starch,’ corn-based biopolymer trays were a notable highlight at AMI/FMI International May 1-3 in Dallas.
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FILED IN:  Sustainability  > Bioplastics
     

Plantic Technologies of Melbourne, Australia, showed two commercial applications of its Plantic eco Plastic high-barrier technology. From Excelline Food Products of Chatsworth, CA, comes super-premium Steak and Green Chili Flautas in a tray (shown here) that Excelline forms from rollstock provided by Plantic. And in a pre-made tray supplied by Plantic comes Outback Spirit Sausages from Farmfoods Australia of Geelong, Victoria, Australia; the tray is notable for its custom-matched “Outback orange” color. Both of these innovative packs have extended refrigerated shelf lives. As of this posting, no information was available regarding lidding materials, but presumably some barrier material is involved.

Plantic eco Plastic is made using a corn crop that is specifically grown for Plantic Technologies Ltd. The whole of the harvested crop is used and Plantic uses the extracted starch to make its biopolymer packaging material; the byproduct goes to animal food and fertilizer. Due to a highly efficient conversion rate, says Plantic, there is minimal crop space required, and the crop has no impact on food-growing land space requirements. The firm’s patented polymer technology is based on the use of high-amylose corn starch, a material derived from annual harvesting of specialized non-genetically-modified (hybrid) corn and supplied by Corn Products International. The biopolymer is comparable in cost to other conventional plastic packaging materials, says Plantic.

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Plantic eco Plastic consists of a core layer that is extruded in a conventional manner. Laminated to this core layer are skin layers of PE or PP. Plantic eco Plastic is not biodegradable due to the presence of non-biodegradable skin layers that surround the starch core. Plantic notes that a process to separate the starch core from the skins has been developed. In the meantime, says Plantic, this material is not considered a significant contaminant in mixed polymer recycling processes. The firm also notes that the material is certified as a bio-based product by Vincotte. The certification of 3 stars indicates that the material is made of up to 89% renewable content.

“The environmental benefits of Plantic eco Plastic™ combined with the ability to meet our shelf life demands provide a package that truly fits with our high standards and naturally fresh image,” says Carlos Angulo, CEO of Excelline Foods.  “All of our products are handmade using only the freshest ingredients and natural preservatives to bring our customers the highest quality Mexican foods available.”

According to VP sales and marketing Noel Bonn, the Plantic material is used by Excelline in two formats. For 12 flautas weighing a total of 42 oz and selling for about $10.00, Excelline uses rollstock material on a modified-atmosphere Multivac thermoform/seal system.  Refrigerated shelf life is about 37 days. A fish taco product, on the other hand, is vacuum packaged and then sent through high-pressure processing to give it a 60-day refrigerated shelf life. Both items are ready to be eaten by the consumer after a brief spell in the microwave oven.

“Plantic eco Plastic sets a new standard for barrier packaging performance,” says Tom Black, President of the Americas, Plantic Technologies.  “The cost to operate is very competitive with traditional barrier films, and combined with functional performance forms the cornerstone of our value proposition.” The ability to retain product freshness while at the same time having no negative impact on the environment is a great outcome for both Plantic and Excelline’s customers, adds Black.

Other Plantic news emerging out of AMI/FMI is the announcement that Plantic is partnering with Braskem, one of the world's leading petrochemical companies, to add sugar cane derived from I’m greenTM Polyethylene to its Plantic eco Plastic™ ultra-high barrier Plantic eco Plastic™ product range. The addition of Braskem's Green PE will increase the renewable content of Plantic eco Plastic™ to above 90% and further improve the carbon footprint without compromising the ultra-high barrier properties offered by Plantic eco Plastic™.

"Plantic eco Plastic™ GPE incorporating Braskem's Green Polyethylene provides for the highest renewable content barrier packaging on the market," says Brendan Morris, Plantic Technologies CEO. "The cooperation with Braskem brings together two outstanding environmental performance plastics to create an ultra-high barrier plastic, with unmatched performance properties and outstanding environmental advantages."

Plantic eco Plastic™ GPE trays and roll stock require no investment in new processing or packaging technology. They are a drop-in replacement for a range of traditional plastics used in modified atmosphere and Ultra high-barrier packaging. The rigid trays and roll stock are offered in a transparent form as well as a variety of colors and even multi-color formats.
 

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